Consideration of report on the political transition in Chad


Date | 03 August, 2021

Tomorrow (03 August) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1016th session. PSC will consider the report on the progress on the implementation of the political transition in Chad on the African Union Support Mechanism (AUSM).

This first session of the month will have two segments. During the first and partially open segment, it is envisaged that following opening remark of the PSC Chairperson for August, Cameroon’s Permanent Representative to the AU, Churchill Ewumbue-Monono, and a statement by the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, the AU High Representative for Chad and Special Representative of the Chairperson of the Commission, Basile Ekouebe; Representative of Chad as the country concerned; Congo as the Chair of Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS); ECCAS Secretariat; Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), Mamman Nuhu; Representative of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD); Representative of the G5 Sahel Force; and Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to the AU, Birgitte Markussen will make statements reflecting their respective perspectives on the agenda of the session. Following deliberation among PSC member States and consideration of key elements for the outcome document during the second and closed segment of the session, August’s Chairperson, Churchill Ewumbue-Monono will deliver closing remarks.

This session is a follow up to the PSC’s request of the Chairperson of the Commission (at its 996th meeting held on 14 May this year) to report to it by the end of June 2021 on developments in Chad in general, and in particular, the work of the AUSM. The AUSM has been established in line with the PSC’s request of the Chairperson to set up the same with the aim to facilitate and coordinate the efforts of the AU High Representative and development partners towards providing ‘comprehensive and sustained support to the transition process in Chad’.

During its last meeting on Chad (996th session), the Council requested, among others, the completion of the transition to democratic rule within 18 months, effective from 20 April 2021; assurances that the Chairman of Transitional Military Council (TMC) and its members do not run in the upcoming national elections; and the urgent revision of the Transition Charter. The Council also requested Chadian authorities to ‘urgently establish the National Transition Council’ to serve as interim legislative body with a clear mandate to draft a new ‘people-centred constitution’. It further requested that ‘inclusive’ and ‘transparent’ national dialogues and reconciliations are conducted and investigations in to the killing of the late President Idriss Deby expedited. The report on the AUSM is expected to highlight developments towards the implementation of these measures, and the work undertaken by the AUSM to support Chadian authorities in this respect.

On several occasions, the leadership of TMC has vowed to comply with the 18-month timeline to organize national elections and hand over power to the democratically elected government. However, in his rare interview with a Jeune Afrique magazine in June, the leader of TMC, Mahamat Deby, ‘did not rule out’ the possibility of extension of the 18 months deadline attaching the elections on two conditions. The first is that ‘Chadians are able to agree to move forward at the planned pace’ and the second is that partners help Chad to ‘finance the dialogue and the elections.’ To allay concerns about their future plans, in a statement made on 20 May, the TMC members and its leader affirmed that they are not taking part in the upcoming elections in adherence to the PSC’s direction. There is the issue of whether members of the civilian members of the interim government are eligible to the presidential and legislative elections in late 2022. Unless the issue is clarified as part of its amendment, the transitional charter in its original terms does not seem to envisage such restriction, thereby leaving the option open for Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacke and his cabinet comprising 40 Ministers and deputy Ministers to run for the 2022 elections.

The National Transition Council, the legislative body of the transition, is not yet in place. However, the TMC has formed a committee of TMC leadership and representatives of main political parties with the task of appointing members of the future transitional council. Another issue that would be of interest for PSC members is to ensure that the national council is inclusive with its members drawn from a wide spectrum of the society representing the various political and social sectors of the public.

The 93-member transitional council is responsible for drafting a ‘new people-centred constitution’ and overseeing the revision of the transition charter, together with the interim government. The delay in its establishment also stalls the process of drafting a new constitution and revision of the existing transitional Charter, as required by the PSC at its 996th session. In accompanying the transition, AUSM prioritizes the revision of the Charter to ensure that there is a clear separation of role between TMC and interim government as outlined in the 996th session; the eligibility/non-eligibility of members of interim government and TMC are clarified; and the duration of the transition period is clearly provided with no possibility of extension.

With respect to the convening of national dialogues and reconciliation as directed by the PSC, a new Ministry of Reconciliation and Dialogue, a portfolio handed to a political and military figure Acheick Ibn Oumar, was established in May. Other encouraging developments observed include the release of high-profile detainees such as Timam Erdimi (son of former rebel leader) and Baradine Berdei (human rights activist detained since January 2020) and the legalization of the opposition party Les Transformateurs (The Transformers). However, the process has not yet begun. In this respect, the AU can play a big role in supporting Chadians to convene genuine and inclusive national dialogue and reconciliation to address issues of national concern.

Another issue the Council is likely to follow up during tomorrow’s session is its request for the appointment of a High Representative. In June, the AU Commission Chairperson appointed Ibrahima Fall of Senegal as High Representative. The TMC leadership declined to accept the appointment, hence Fall was unable to take up his assignment. Such rejection happened for the second time in less than two months. It is to be recalled that Somalia rejected former Ghanaian President John Mahama as AU’s High Representative back in May. There are media reports that Chad’s rejection has to do with issues of consultation. Unlike the High Representative, Chairperson’s appointment of Basile Ikouébé of Congo as the Special Representative and Head of the AU Liaison Office in Chad—who previously served in the same position for the Great Lakes Region—seem to have gone smoothly.

The report is also likely to give an overview of the situation in Chad. There are two main developments of interest to the Council in this respect. The first is the internal situation including the intrastate conflict between Chadian authorities and rebel groups, which significantly subsided in recent months. Reports indicate that rebels’ capability is degraded after Chadian army military engagement. Meanwhile, Togolese authorities managed to convene series of meetings between the TMC and four rebel groups including the Front for Change and Concord in Chad, otherwise known in its French acronym as FACT, in an attempt to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. The efforts have so far failed, as the position of rebel groups seem ‘irreconcilable’ with Chadian authorities for the time being. It is also worth noting that one of the opposition parties, the Transformers, and CSOs held rallies in late July against ‘usurpation of power’ by TCM. There were similar protests in April and May.

The second is the inter-state deadly skirmish between Chad and Central African Republic (CAR) in late May. The incident reportedly happened when CAR armed forces were pursuing rebels into the Chadian territory, resulting in the death of Chadian soldiers. Tension escalated quickly, but eventually the two countries agreed to establish an ‘independent and impartial international commission of inquiry’ composed of representatives from AU, ECCAS and the UN to clarify the circumstances surrounding the 30 May incident. The two neighbouring countries have experienced recurring tension for quite some time, and as such, the establishment of the commission of inquiry can serve as an opportunity to resolve the tension between the two countries beyond the incident.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. On the transitional process, the PSC is likely to welcome the progress made thus far such as the formation of a committee for constituting the membership of the national transitional council. Given that many of the important actions are still pending, the Council is expected to urge Chadian authorities to make tangible progress in this regard. Apart from calling for speedy appointment of members of national transitional council, the PSC may in this regard underscore the need to fast track the revision of the transitional charter and the drafting of the constitution as well as the convening of an inclusive and genuine national dialogue. The Council is also likely to reemphasize the need to comply strictly with the 18-month timeframe for the transition and for members of the TMC to abide by their commitment not to run in the upcoming elections. On the security front, the Council may echo the 4 June Declaration of the summit of ECCAS on the political situation in Chad, which expressed concern over the threat of mercenaries in the region and calls for an international mechanism to manage the withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign fighters engaged in Libyan conflict to avoid destabilization of Chad and the broader region. The Council is expected to commend Togo for the diplomatic efforts to bring Chadian authorities and rebel groups to the negotiating table, and may encourage Togolese authorities to step up the effort. Regarding Chad-CAR relations, the Council may welcome the agreement to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate the late May incident and further encourage both parties to strengthen security cooperation around border areas. The Council may express its expectation that the AU Commission working with Chad proceeds with the implementation of its decision on the appointment of the AU High Representative for Chad.

Emergency session on the situation in Chad


Date | 22 April, 2021

Tomorrow (22 April) afternoon the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene an emergency session on the situation in Chad. It is expected that the PSC Chairperson for the Month, Djibouti’s Permanent Representative to the AU and UNECA, Idriss Farah will make an opening remark. The AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, who was passing through Chad from a visit to Libya, is also expected to brief the PSC based on information from the ground. The representative of Chad, as the concerned country and the current chairperson of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) are also expected to deliver statements.

The session was called following the announcement of the passing of President Idriss Deby and the political developments that followed this unexpected incident. It is to be recalled that Chadians went to the polls for the national elections on 11 April 2021 in which President Deby was seeking re-election for a sixth term. The death of President Deby came only a day after the electoral commission declared provisional results giving him victory with 79.32% of the votes.

While the details of the circumstances surrounding his death remains unknown, it was on 20 April that the spokesperson of the Chadian army announced on television that President Deby died of wounds he sustained after being shot during a visit of troops on the frontlines fighting armed rebel groups. On 17 April, the US issued a statement announcing that non-essential US government employees have been ordered to leave Chad. This came following the speedy march of armed non-governmental groups in North Chad towards the capital city N’Djamena. Similarly, the UK, which also urged its nationals to leave Chad, reported that a group of Libya-based rebels, the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) was heading towards N’Djamena and a separate convoy was seen approaching a town 220 kilometers (137 miles) north of the capital. According to media reports, FACT grew out of rebel groups that were based in Darfur but established their base in the last few years in Libya in the Tibesti mountains, which straddle northern Chad and part of southern Libya.

According to the Constitution of Chad, in the event of the death of the President Article 81 stipulates that the President of the National Assembly takes over power. However, this constitutionally envisaged succession of power was not followed. Instead the military seized power. It closed Chad’s borders and imposed overnight curfew.

The announcement of the death of Deby was followed by a decree declaring the formation of a military transitional council taking over power and designating Deby’s son Mahamat Idriss Deby as head of the Council that seized power. The military spokesperson also announced the dissolution of the government and parliament and the suspension of the Constitution of Chad. According to the military spokesperson, the military council will lead the country on the basis of a transitional charter for 18 months until the organization of election.

The situation has raised alarms about the stability of Chad and its implications for the region. In a short period of time, a country that convened national elections has plunged into an armed conflict and a constitutional crisis that resulted in a major political and social volatility and uncertainty. It is reported that opposition politicians have rejected the military’s move. One of the major opposition leaders Saleh Kebzabo, whose UNDR party boycotted the recent election, told reporters that ‘we must follow the constitution, invite the AU and the UN to help solve our problem’. Another opposition figure proclaimed that this ‘is a coup d’état …and is not acceptable to the people of Chad.’ FACT rebels, who have been leading an offensive against the Chadian regime for nine days, on their part have promised to march on N’Djamena and “categorically” rejected this military council.

In this fast-moving situation, various countries with close ties with Chad have been making statements. In a statement that it issued on 20 April, the US State Department extending its condolences on Deby’s death expressed support for ‘peaceful transfer of power in accordance with the Chadian Constitution’. By contrast and in an announcement that ignores the Constitution of Chad and seems to be in support of the military council, French diplomatic chief Jean-Yves Le Drian called for a military transition of limited duration.

For the PSC, this situation in Chad raises both the need to avoid further deterioration of the security and political situation and the equally critical legal requirement for upholding constitutional rule in Chad. The dynamics in the PSC are such that there is no clarity whether PSC members would automatically apply Article 7(1)(g) of the PSC Protocol on instituting sanctions in the event of an unconstitutional change of government.

The AU legal instruments including the Lomé Declaration of 2000, the AU Constitutive Act, the PSC Protocol and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance ban military coup d’état. Article 7 (1)(g) of the PSC Protocol requires the PSC to ‘institute sanctions whenever an unconstitutional change of government takes place in a member state, as provided for in the Lomé Declaration.’

Over the years, the PSC has developed relatively consistent practice of enforcing this ban on unconstitutional changes of government. This has been particularly the case with respect to military coups. In a similar case that took place in Togo in which, after the death of Togo’s then President Gnassingbé Eyadéma, the country’s military, supported by the ruling party, announced Faure Gnassingbé as the successor to the deceased president, in contravention of the clear provisions of the Constitution of the Togo, on succession to the presidency in the event of the death of the president, the PSC at its 25th session held on 25 February 2005, expressing AU’s strong condemnation of the military coup and suspending the de facto authorities and their representatives from participation in all AU activities, called for return of the country to constitutional legality. In the most recent such incident, it is to be recalled that the PSC at its 941st session, condemning the military takeover of power in Mali and suspending the country from participating in the activities of the AU, called for the transfer of power by the military to a civilian authority. Similarly, in April 2019, at its 840th session, the PSC, rejecting the military seizure of power in Sudan after the incumbent president was overthrown by popular protest and deploring the suspension of the Constitution and dissolution of the National Assembly, which it deemed to constitute a military coup d’état, demanded the military to step aside and hand over power to a transitional civilian political authority within a maximum period of 15 days. This approach itself was based on the earlier decision of the PSC on the case of Burkina Faso in November 2014 when the PSC instead of suspending Burkina Faso immediately gave 15 days for the military to hand over power to a civilian transitional authority.

The expected outcome of tomorrow’s session is a communique. The PSC is expected to pay tribute to President Deby for the contributions he made for peace and security in Africa and affirm its commitment for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and stability of Chad. The PSC is expected to express AU’s condemnation and total rejection of any military seizure of power in accordance with the various AU instruments and the announcement of the suspension of the Constitution and the dissolution of the national assembly. It may further underscore the need for a civilian based political authority and urge the military council to step aside and hand over power to such civilian based political authority. Depending on the information from the ground, the PSC, if it were not to opt for automatic application of the Lomé Declaration and Article 7(1)(g) of the PSC Protocol, may, following the examples of Sudan and Burkina Faso, give the military 15 days from the date of adoption of its decision for handing over power to civilian based political authority, failing which, PSC will automatically apply Article 7(1)(g) of its Protocol. The PSC may also call on ECCAS and the UN to work closely with the AU and initiate a process to facilitate the resolution of the situation in a way that does not endanger the stability and peace of Chad on the basis of AU principles and instruments.

Consideration of the Fact Finding Mission on Chad


Date | 10 May, 2021

Tomorrow (10 May) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 994th session to consider the findings of the Fact- finding Mission on Chad.

This first session of the month is set to begin with the opening remark of the PSC Chairperson for May, Algeria’s Permanent Representative to the AU, Salah Francis Elhamdi. The AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye, who co-led the delegation of the Fact-finding Mission, is expected to present on the findings of the Mission. Similarly, Djibouti’s Permanent Representative to the AU, Mohammed Idriss Farah, Chairperson of the PSC for April who co-led the mission is also scheduled to present on the mission. It is also envisaged that the representative of Chad, as the country concerned, will make a statement.

Tomorrow’s session is a follow up to the emergency session on Chad the PSC had at its 993rd meeting held on 22 April 2021. In that meeting, the Council requested the AU Commission to send a ‘high- powered Fact-Finding Mission to Chad’. It is to be recalled that the emergency session was convened after the military announced seizure of power after the death of the late President Idriss Deby Itno on 20 April, reportedly from the wounds sustained while battling rebel groups. A Transitional Military Council, established under the leadership of Deby’s son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, suspended the Constitution and dissolved the national Assembly. The military takeover took place in clear contravention to the terms of Chad’s Constitution which provides that in the event of vacation of power, the president of the National Assembly should be appointed as interim president and lead the country to elections within 90 days.

As highlighted in our previous ‘Insight on the PSC’ for the emergency session on Chad at its 993rd session, practice of the PSC takes two approaches during unconstitutional change of government. The first is the automatic application of the Lomé Declaration and article 7(1) (g) of the PSC Protocol, resulting in the immediate suspension of the country from AU activities. Since coming into operation in March 2004 and until its 993rd session on Chad, the PSC invoked its Article 7(1)(g) power in fifteen (15) instances.1 In all the 15 instances except that of Cote d’Ivoire in December 2010, the PSC designated each instance as constituting ‘coup d’état’ or ‘unconstitutional change of government’. The PSC also condemned or rejected the ‘coup d’état’ or ‘unconstitutional change ofgovernment’ in each instance. Additionally, with the exception of three cases,2 in all other twelve (12) cases the PSC applied the Lomé Declaration’s stipulation for automatic suspension of the country concerned, with the PSC, in some cases, such as its 384th session, stating that AU instruments ‘provide for automatic implementation of specific measures whenever unconstitutional change of government occurs.’

The forcible seizure of power by the military in Chad is the first case in which the PSC failed to name the act as a coup d’état and condemn or reject it. This is in stark departure from both the clear terms of AU normative instruments including the Lomé Declaration of 2000 and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007) and the practice it has set over the years, at least in two major ways. On one hand, the Council stopped short of characterizing the military takeover in Chad as ‘unconstitutional change of government’ or a ‘coup d’état’. On the other hand, the Council neither suspended Chad from AU activities pursuant to its Protocol and the Lomé Declaration nor did it follow the Burkina Faso and Sudan approach that gave 15 days ultimatum for the military to transfer power to a civilian authority.

The PSC decided to task the AU Commission to dispatch ‘a high-powered Fact-Finding Mission’, with the participation of the PSC, to engage with the Chadian authorities on all issues relating to the situation there, particularly to support the investigation into the killing of the late President and ascertain the efforts to restore constitutionalism, and report back to the Council within two weeks. In pursuit of this, the Fact-finding Mission, led by the AU Commissioner for PAPS, along with the PSC Chairperson for the month of April (Permanent Representative of Djibouti), was deployed to Chad from 29 April to 06 May 2021. The delegation involved the participation of the representatives of five PSC member states from the five regions of the continent (Cameroon from Central, Djibouti from East, Egypt from the North, Ghana from West and Lesotho from Southern). The DRC in its capacity as Chairperson of the Union, and an officer of the AU Legal Counsel were also part of the delegation.

According to a statement released by AU Commission on 29 April, the Fact-Finding Mission would engage with Chadian authorities and stakeholders mainly to ‘get first-hand information’ on the unfolding political and security situation as well as explore ways to facilitate ‘a swift return to constitutional order’, while at the same time preserving security and territorial integrity of that country. The mission held meetings with a wide range of actors including the President of the Military Council, Head of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, religious leaders of Chad, President of the Supreme Court of Chad and President of the Assembly of Chad. The delegation of the mission also received a briefing from the AU Commission Chairperson in N’Djamena.

One consideration that seems to carry tremendous weight within the PSC as reflected in its communique of the 993rd session is the security context in Chad and its neighbourhood. Some of the developments that merit attention during tomorrow’s session include the intense political climate after a deadly protest broke out in the two largest cities (N’Djamena and Moundou), demanding a return to constitutional order. According to media reports, military crackdown left six people dead and some 700 people arrested. Also of concern is the fight with rebel group, the Front for Change and Concord in Chad, otherwise known by its French acronym as FACT, in northern part of the country, some 300Kms north of the capital. This is despite the rebel’s overtures for a ceasefire and dialogue. The military council ruled out any possibility to sit down with the rebels for negotiation nor mediation, but vowed to bring them to justice. Another consideration for PSC members is the fact that Chad is a key player as a major military actor in the efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism in both the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin regions.

Of course, these concerns about security and stability are not completely unique to Chad. These are threats that Chad shares with its two neighboring countries, Sudan and Mali, that also experienced military seizure of power in similar context. Indeed, experience shows that overemphasizing the security dimension leads to risk of the military considering it as a license to justify seizure of power in complete disregard of the constitutional process of the country concerned. While security represents a significant consideration, the experience of Mali and Sudan also shows that it cannot dispense with the need for upholding constitutional order and the application of the AU norm on unconstitutional changes of government.

In terms of the task of the Fact-finding Mission for ‘ascertaining’ and ‘facilitating’ swift return to constitutional order, the shape that the transitional process has taken shows no indication of a handing over of power to civilian authority. Instead, indications are that the Military Council is going to stay around. The Military Council, without any meaningful engagement with other stakeholders, adopted a Transitional Charter, indicating the continuation of the suspension of the Constitution of the country. This Charter invests supreme authority in the Military Council, with the Chairman of the Military Council holding enormous power including the appointment of both the Transitional Government headed by the Prime Minister and the members of National Transitional Council. It is to be recalled that the PSC has already expressed its ‘grave concern’ over the military takeover and urged the handing over of political power to civilian authorities in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Constitution of Chad, at its 993rd session.

The Military Council named a government comprising 40 ministers and deputy ministers where oppositions are given some portfolios. For instance, the former Prime Minister turned an opposition and a presidential runner-up in the latest election, Albert Pahimi Padacke, has been appointed to head the transitional government as an interim Prime Minister. The newly created Ministry of Reconciliation and Dialogue as well as the Justice Ministry are also portfolios handed to the opposition. While some of this move received positive response from some oppositions including the longtime opposition figure Saleh Kebzabo, the fact remains that under the Transitional Charter, ultimate power is held by the Military Council. Thus, these measures that the Military Council took represent no progress towards return to civilian rule within the framework of Chadian Constitution as stipulated in the communiqué of PSC’s 993rd meeting.

The other issue on which the Fact-finding Mission is expected to update the PSC is the investigations around the circumstances of the death of the late President Deby.

The expected outcome is a communique. On the issue of the transfer of power to civilian authorities as per the terms of PSC’s 993rd meeting, the PSC may follow one of the two options. The first is to endorse the Military Council’s plan for the transition. This would be a direct violation of the AU instruments including the PSC’s Protocol and bring to an end AU’s policy of zero tolerance to military coups. The other option is to apply, as it did for Mali in August 2020, the AU instruments, declare the military council’s action a military coup, suspend Chad from participation in the AU activities and set out clear terms for Military Council’s handover of power to civilian transitional authority with the participation of various Chadian stakeholders for lifting suspension. The Council is expected to reiterate its deep concern about the increasing spate of violence and rebellion and the attendant heightened insecurity and the increasing operational tempo of rebels, foreign terrorist fighters and mercenaries, as well as the proliferation of illicit weapons, as consequences of, among others, the conflict in Libya. The PSC is also expected to express concern about the challenges facing Chad’s security and stability and the necessity of forestalling the transitional process from leading to the destabilization of the country, and the weakening of its role in the fight against terrorism in the region. In this respect, the PSC, as it did in previous instances relating to Chad, may also express its rejection of the attempt of the rebel groups for taking power by force and call for peaceful means for resolving the fighting with rebel groups. The Council is also likely to express its regrets over the incidents of violence on protesters and call on all parties to show utmost restraint and the de facto authorities to respect human rights as enshrined in different regional and international human rights instruments.

1Togo (2005), Mauritania (2005), Mauritania (2008), Guinea (2008), Madagascar (2009), Niger (2010), Cote d’Ivoire (2010), Mali (2012), Guinea Bissau (2012), Central African Republic (2013), Egypt (2013), Burkina Faso (2014), Burkina Faso (2015), Sudan (2019) and Mali (2020).

2The first instance in which the PSC did not activate automatic suspension after declaring the occurrence of a coup d’état or unconstitutional change of government was at its 164th session held on 24 December 2008 relating to Guinea. But this lasted only for five days. Thus, at its 165th session held on 29 December 2008, after the visit of the AU Commission Chairperson to the country on 26 December, the PSC suspended Guinea from participation in AU activities. The other instances are the cases of Burkina Faso in November 2014 and Sudan in April 2019 where the PSC set a 15-day deadline for transfer of power after declaring the seizure of power by the military a coup d’état and condemning it.